Double deutsch

What’s this? Oh, my blog.

Today I brewed up a batch of german pilsner and münich dunkel.

My brewday started yesterday with me weighing out the malt. I went with a simple malt bill for the pils; 96% w. pils and 4% carahell. I also weighted out some munich II, dark crystal and black malt for a tiny mash to add to the split batch of pilsner.

Confused? img_20161007_182932

So this the g(R)ist.

I went along and brewed my regular batch of german pils and divided it up into two PET carboys. In one of them I also added the tiny BIAB mash. This way I got a kinda(ish) münich dunkel as well as a Pilsner.

Side BitchIAB

Tasting the two worts they did have two very distinct flavors. The pils had that aromatic floral hop character and a grassy pilsner malt background, whilst the mixed wort had a darker arak thing going on.

I added 150 grams of Hallertauer traditional at the start of the boil and the same amount at the end of it. It’s a huge amount of hops compared to other homebrew recipes (Brewing classic styles, byo, etc) but I find the Pilsner to be a OG IPA and should therefore have huge amounts of that dank green shit in it.


I rehydrated and pitched one pack of US-05 (YES I KNOW!! Wait for explanation…) into each of the carboys.


My plan is to serve this in three weeks at a oktoberfest-inspired party and needed to be ready by then – therefore the use of an ale yeast instead of a traditional lager yeast. In my defence US-05 makes a super clean beer if fermented cold and I’ve served light beers and presented them as lagers without people being able to tell the difference.

I’ll try to hit y’all back with a follow up post. No promises though.


Here’s some dope brewery art:


Gröna små äpplen

One of my latest endeavors in home brewing is lager, Especially the German Pilsner. I’ve come to love this flavorful, bitter and crisp beer to the point where I don’t drink much else. It might be a cliché among homebrewers to regress to a state where lots of us once started, lager drinkers without much interest for dark, cloudy and bitter styles.

However, the pilsner is not an easy style to brew. It craves attention in almost every aspect of the process, from picking a yeast strain and making a big enough starter to controlling fermentation and lagering. I think this has something to do with the appeal of brewing lagers. It’s well known for its inability to hide off flavors and poor brewing. This is where I segue into this posts topic, off flavors, and as you might have guessed from the title (which I borrowed from a beloved Swedish Jazz singer) the culprit is acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is a chemical compound found in an array of things. It appears in nature in places from ripe fruit to coffee.[1] It is also very often featured in web articles on hangovers which makes it difficult to find any useful information when searching for information regarding acetaldehyde and home brewing. Luckily I have something of a small library at home stocked with books on home brewing. In this post I will lay out how I go about solving my problems with acetaldehyde. Tag along and you might find something that is useful for you as well.


evaluating beer

My problem:

My lagers taste pretty good during the fermentation, they might smell like fart for a while but that is just how they do. They smell like fart. Nothing wrong with that. But in the late stages of fermentation and during lagering they take on that horrible smell of green apple. It’s a fruity and chemical odor that screams at me. FAILURE! The acetaldehyde doesn’t go away during lagering, it stays with the beer even until the point where it’s clear and beautiful. One might say the beer taste the best when just looking at it.

To find a solution I need to understand the problem. When and why does the acetaldehyde occur? In Brewing Better Beer by Gordon Strong the acetaldehyde is described as an “intermediate fermentation compound and a precursor to alcohol”.[2] This connects to the mention of the compound as a typical flavor in green beer (or young beer).  Following this thread the next step would be evaluating how long a beer needs to be conditioned in order for the acetaldehyde to disappear. As an intermediate compound acetaldehyde is what happens before something else and in yeast by Christ White and Jamil Zainasheff this “something else” is ethanol.[3] Thus acetaldehyde + an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase = ethanol. I hardly believe adding more of this enzyme (if it’s even possible) is the easy way to go about solving my problem. Instead I have to facilitate the best environment possible for the enzymes already occurring in the fermentation. This brings me to the question how do I do this?

The 3 phases of a lager fermentation

A lager fermentation consists of these 3 phases:

primary fermentation: main fermentation of the fermentable extract. The bulk of the CO2 and alkohol are created here

maturation: the yeast is allowed to clean up some of its byproducts like diacetyl (butterscotch flavor) and acetaldehyde (green apple flavor)

cold stabilization (lagering): the low temperature causes haze forming proteins and polyphenols come out of solution and drop out of suspension. There is also a mellowing of flavors and some formation of esters happening. The latter becomes only significant after more than 12 weeks [Narziss 2005]


– 2016-04-01

Returning to G. Strong he explains that the acetaldehyde is high during fermentation and decreases during conditioning.[4] If applied to my problem it can either be false, since the acetaldehyde is increasing during conditioning, or true which means that I rushed my beer into the conditioning phase to quickly. Since the first scenario would be useless unless I dwell on the latter I will proceed in describing my process.

After pitching the yeast on the 20th of February I let the fermentation go on until 19th of Mars. By this time the beer had reached terminal gravity and then some. A week before, the 12th of mars, I ramped up the temperature to 13-14 degrees Celsius for a diacetyl rest. On the 19th of Mars I kegged the beer following good sanitary procedures and purging the kegs with Co2. After two weeks of cold conditioning the beers were tasted and this is when the acetaldehyde was showing in its fullest and most gruesome form. Blasting my face with icky green apples. According to Strong I should condition my beer for an even longer period, thus giving the enzymes more time. This is the first step.

I do fear the time solution to be a bit too simple since a good amount of time has already been given. Therefore I will keep looking for more solutions.

White and Zainasheff presents data by White Labs where they used gas chromatography to measure acetaldehyde in beer. The perceptible amount of acetaldehyde is 10 ppm. In this test white labs fermented the same wort using an ale strain at two different temperatures, 19 degrees Celsius and 24 degrees. The one fermented higher produces higher numbers of acetaldehyde than the one fermented colder. It is not necessary that this applies to me since lager fermentations occur at much lower temperatures. On the other hand low fermentation temperatures can stress yeast cells as well. I will now explore the yeast amount and health as a possible reason for my problem. Using the Mr. Malty Yeast Pitching Calculator I calculated that I would need 5.18 liters of starter to reach the amount of cells needed. My started was approx. 5 liters and would therefore be enough. It was plenty healthy which was apparent during the starter fermentation.

Pitching a large and healthy starter might not be enough. Another factor to take into account is aeration of the wort in which the yeast is pitch. I aerate through rocking the carboy back and forth, which will give me a maximum of 8 ppm.[5] This is in the lower range of the recommended amount of oxygen. A solution to this problem would be using pure oxygen. This is the second step.

I will try these two steps in order to reduce the amount of acetaldehyde in my lagers.

[1] 2016-04-01

[2] Strong 2011, 232f.

[3] White and Zainasheff 2010, 31.

[4] Strong 2011, 233.

[5] White and Zainasheff 2010, 78f.

lacto basilius ain’t all that!

I find that the sour beers done with sour mashing or post boil fermentation with lacto basilius lacks the dryness and crispiness true lambics have. It’s a freshness thing, a geuze never stops being refreshing. Only too refreshing.

I believe one of the many differences is that not enough of the sugars are eaten by the yeast and the lacto.

I believe these beers would benefit from using adjuncts like maize and rice as well as sugars an low mash temps.

The beer shown below is a black current berliner weiße brewed by Dugges. It showcases a lot of the nice things these kinds of beers usually does. Low ABV, refreshing tartness, fruity esters and fruity fruit (or in this case berries). But there is also some residual sweet maltiness that fucks everything up. Excuse my language but I am serious, there is always this tiny portion of sweet, malty, left over scrap of I don’t want you there lurking. I guess it’s my new mission… terminate it!




Disclaimer: Beer infused brain wrote this post.

Visiting my friend Roger at Café Proviant (brew pub)


Today I went to drop of a hop plant at Café Proviant in Stockholm where my friend Roger brews beer every Sunday. It was the first time i visited during a brew day and they have a nice little setup with a 200 liter Braumeister brew system and four (If I remember correctly) temp. controlled fermentation tanks. They also have a 50-liter pilot/yeast starter system which they use to brew batches for growing yeast. The small batch beers are also served to the customers.

Today they brewed a pilsner with 55% munich malt, a bit unorthodox if you ask me but Roger is not known for following the rules. He gave me sample of 100% brett from the fermentation tank and it was great! Super clean with ripe mango fruit notes.

Another beer I tried was the bitter which is a 2.9% beer and it was just amazing! I really do enjoy great session beers. Thank you for the pint Roger!

Here’s some pictures and the restaurant is well worth a visit, not just for the beers but their menu looks tasty as well. The address is Arbetargatan 33.DSC07889-2 DSC07890-3

The 200-liter system (I guess the 500 as well) has a manometer showing the pressure inside the tubes pumping wort. According to Roger sometimes the pressure has to be corrected.DSC07891-4

Pilot brew working on a wit. (I named it wits and tits, I don’t think they will use it though)DSC07893-5

Bitter and hop plant. I hop it survives!DSC07895-6 DSC07896-7 DSC07897-8 DSC07899-10


Hop stand, second time around.

UPDATE! See bottom.

Over two years ago I posted some reflections after a brew day. I had tried doing a hop stand for the first time and I was excited. Even though I don’t remember exactly how the beer came out I think I remember it was good! Here’s a link to the post.

Today I did another batch exercising the hop stand technique. It was also one of those clear out the hop storage brews.

I used the pump in the braumeister this time to make sure the hops stayed in suspension, I believe the hops will release more oils that way instead of stacking up at the bottom. With a immersion chiller hop stands are super easy. For my 50-liter braumeister I cooled down until I reached two degrees above my target (today I used 88°c, 71°c and 65°c) and then turned the water of and waited for a while until the temp was right. There’s a lag time and therefore this method works really well. The first rest was 10 minutes long and the second and third was 15 minutes each. With a total of 45 minutes hop stand the cool side of the brew day is ridiculously long!

As last time I used the BYO article on hop stands, link:

Until the beer is fermented I can’t say more than that the wort smelled fantastic! I will do a tasting update later on and until then, here’s some pictures and the recipe.


The bowl to the right says 60° but I threw in the hops at 66.DSC07830-3 DSC07832-4 DSC07833-5 DSC07834-6

Malt and mash:

64°c fo 75 minutes, 76°c for 15 minutes.
Adjust water to 280 ppm SO4.

88% Pale malt
6% Carapils
2% Caramunic I
2% Red Wheat (Bries)
2% Beet sugar


Bittering – Magnum 37.4 IBU, Herkules 17 IBUs.

Hop stand – Veriety/AA%/Grams for stages 1 to 3.
Simcoe /11.7/ 12, 12, 8
Chinook /11.9/ 10, 10, 18
Centennial /10.3/20, 20, 27
Citra /11.9/ 30, 30, 30
Mosaic /11.5// 9, 9, 10
Columbu/Tomahawk/ 16/ 30, 30, 30

Update 6/7/15

Gravity reading 1.012 after 8 days. I raised the temp from 18 to 20c yesterday. I’ll be kegging with some gelatin on monday. It’s pretty cloudy right now.